Many political analysts over-analyze the presidential election process. It's not even about a nation-wide shift to the left or right. Republicans vote Republican. Democrats vote Democrat. Independents vote for whoever is fashionable, so elections are heavily dependent on Independents. My theory: 1. If the economy is doing well, the incumbent (or his successor in his party) is elected. 2. If the economy is not doing well, the challenger of the opposite party is elected. 1956 - Good economy, Eisenhower (R) re-elected. 1960 - Economic slowdown, Kennedy (D) elected 1964 - Economic progress, Kennedy successor Johnson (D) elected 1968 - Johnson doesn't run, Nixon (R) elected 1972 - Economy is doing well, Nixon (R) re-elected 1976 - Economy is slowing down, Ford (R) loses to Carter (D). 1980 - Stagflation. Carter (D) loses to Reagan (R). 1984 - Economy recovers. Reagan (R) wins by landslide. 1988 - Economy still booming. Reagan successor Bush (R) elected. 1992 - Economic difficulty. Bush (R) loses to Clinton (D). 1996 - Economy booming. Clinton (D) re-elected. 2000 - Economy booming. Gore (D) won the popular vote. 2004 - Economy recovers from a recession. Bush (R) re-elected. 2008 - Economic meltdown. McCain (R) loses to Obama (D). (The charisma theory, that the most charismatic candidate wins holds some weight as Kennedy beat Nixon, Nixon avoided debates in his elections as he was uncharismatic, Reagan/Clinton were charismatic, while Ford/Bush who lost were not. But there are some problems with that. Charisma is dependent on a good economy. Bush was not charismatic, but he didn't need it to win in 2004. Carter was charismatic until stagflation. Reagan wasn't very charismatic in 1983 when there was long unemployment lines. Obama was very charismatic as a challenger in a recession, now that he is president during a bad economy, his charisma is dimming.) My prediction: If economy is still bad in 2012, Obama loses. If economy improves, Obama is re-elected. This is not the only reason, but it is a factor (and often in a big one) in all elections in our era.